Place a linen over your head and place the whole bird in your mouth. Yes, the entire bird. This is how the sweet French bird, Ortolan, is enjoyed by the rare few. The tiny songbird will flit among the country side in France until it is scooped up and fed figs in the dark. Once the naive creature is to the preferred size she is plunged to her untimely death in Armagnac and roasted for about 8 minutes. The amuse bouche has been enjoyed by only the lucky and daring for centuries. One being the late Anthony Bourdain. He once said, "With every bite, as the thin bones and layers of fat, meat, skin, and organs compact in on themselves, there are sublime dribbles of varied and wondrous ancient flavors: figs, Armagnac, dark flesh slightly infused with the salty taste of my own blood as my mouth is pricked by the sharp bones. As I swallow, I draw in the head and beak, which, until now, have been hanging from my lips, and blithely crush the skull." Sounds sadistic? Well, it is.

December 2018Victoria Sass